Left In Lowell

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December 7, 2011

Public School®

by at 10:11 pm.

Tonight there was a hearing held at the Pollard Library, where community input was solicited over a proposed public charter school. I didn’t attend the hearing, as it was held during normal business hours. But, I’m told that supporters offered encouragement, some in person, some by letter.

Those you would know that are supporting this charter school are Joe Mendonca, Tom Wirtenan, Bill Taupier and Steve Pangiatakos. Opposing the proposal, at the event, were Jean Franco & Paul Georges.

I heard there was one particularly cranky man that took the opportunity to rant about greedy Unions, or some nonsense like that. Any microphone will do, eh?

I stated earlier that I’m not supporting this effort. There are plenty of private opportunities to educate your child in Lowell. We sent both our daughters to SJA (K-8), and then to Lowell High. I believe that school choice should be there, but that private schools should not drain public coffers. Thus, we went without some “things,” so our kids could have a solid educational foundation. There was a sting to the tuition. It should be that way.

The criticism of this proposal, backed by SABIS® Educational Systems, Inc., are:
- The educational approach and materials are proprietary, so any ‘lessoned learned’ overcoming challenges unique to Lowell would not be shared with other Lowell public schools.
- The charter school will selectively recruit students, draining talent and public money from LSS.
- That SABIS North America is HQ’d in Minnesota, with a global parent Corp out of Lebanon.
- The current board is comprised, partly, of folks associated to the troubled Lowell Community Charter School.

I used Teh Google and found some things to consider. Please view them below the fold.

From 2007:

The financial impact could be huge, they say; for example, the departure of just four students could mean the loss of funding for one teaching position.
Sabis Educational Systems, a for-profit corporation based at a private school in Minnesota, would run the proposed charter school, although it would be governed by a local board of directors, which submitted the application for state approval.
“I don’t have any problem with wealthy people who want to take their kids to private school, but don’t take money away from less well-to-do kids,” said Basan Nembirkow, superintendent of Brockton schools. “I will fight tooth and nail for free public education that will provide the best opportunities to every kid that comes through the door of Brockton Public Schools.”
-snip

Nembirkow, the superintendent, is an immigrant who speaks nostalgically about how traditional public education transformed his life. He said he fears the charter school will entice away the most active parents when the city’s schools are struggling to get parents involved. That, he said, will hurt families who don’t have the resources to advocate for education.

From 2004:

The report released by State Auditor Joseph DeNucci found that 38 of the 48 charter schools in fiscal year 2003 carried a cash balance of several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars; the previous year 32 of the 39 charter schools operated in the black. Mystic Valley Regional Charter School had the greatest net assets, $4.4 million. In total, charter schools had $55 million in net assets.

Despite the show of financial health at most schools, several in the last fiscal year operated in the red, including Framingham Community Unity Charter School, Lowell Community Charter School, New Bedford Global Learning Charter School, and Rising Tide Charter School in Plymouth, according to the report. Lowell Community Charter School had a $186,000 deficit.

One school, the Sabis Foxborough Regional Charter, hired a management company that agreed to assume any debt the school incurred, said Glenn Briere, the auditor’s spokesman. The school is no longer managed by Sabis School Network, a for-profit school company that manages schools worldwide.

Opponents and proponents of charter schools seized on the report as evidence of the failings and strengths of the schools, which use public funds, but operate free of municipal control. …

A MA Charter Renewal Inspection Report was done for the SABIS Foxboro Regional Charter School in 2002. They found many good things, but please note these:

The Office’s review disclosed deficiencies in the Board’s governance of the School and oversight of its contract with SABIS Inc. The findings discussed in this report are summarized below:

1. The Board of Trustees did not employ sound business and contract oversight practices in administering the School’s financial relationship with SABIS Inc. during the first five years of School operations.

- Although SABIS Inc. charged the School more than $950,000 in management fees between 1995 and 1999, the School paid the salaries of the on-site staff who administered the School’s business operations on a daily basis during this period.

- The Board of Trustees authorized more than $300,000 in reimbursements to SABIS Inc. for “corporate support” expenses that were neither specified in the 1995 contract nor substantiated with invoices.

- The Board of Trustees inappropriately ceded responsibility to SABIS Inc. for selecting and engaging the services of the School’s independent auditor.

2. The contract with SABIS Inc. executed by the Board in March 2000 would significantly increase the School’s exposure to fraud, waste, and abuse. The new contract would significantly increase SABIS Inc.’s financial control over the School while reducing Board oversight.

- The new contract would significantly increase SABIS Inc.’s potential compensation while eliminating the School’s ability to invest in School programs and operations.

- The indefinite term of the new contract would insulate SABIS Inc. from competition in the future, thereby reducing its incentives to provide efficient, high-quality services to the School.

- The new contract would allow SABIS Inc., but not the School, to terminate the contract after five years.

- The dispute resolution and termination provisions of the new contract would undermine the Board’s ability to terminate the contract if SABIS Inc. failed to perform.

3. The Board of Trustees did not accurately document its official actions and policies.

3. The lack of a formal system of planning and communication creates isunderstanding and frustration across the school community and diminishes commitment to the school.

Interviews and focus groups held with the Board, administration, parents, and teachers revealed a good deal of uncertainty, confusion, and frustration about the decision making process at SABIS Foxboro. SFRCS contracts with SABIS for both management and academic services, with SABIS receiving a 6% fee for each of these areas of service. The implementation process for this contractual arrangement has not been clear to stakeholders and has resulted in a void in leadership in many instances.

There are several key areas in which the lack of an effective system for planning, communication, and decision-making has led to difficulties for the school. An early lack of leadership attending to how the school was addressing the needs of special education students led to a protracted process of negotiation with SABIS to recruit and hire a Special Education Director. A decision by SABIS to combine 8th grade classes to accommodate Kindergarten enrollment led to a significant withdrawal of 8th grade students from the school. While school documents list a substantial waiting list for openings at the school, this waiting list has not been updated since the first year of the school. Until this year, as one staff member stated, “no one was taking responsibility for enrollment.” -snip

9. There is a wide range of ability among teachers across the school to effectively engage all students in the curriculum.
Classroom observations conducted across the SFRCS revealed that the content knowledge and pedagogical skill level of teachers is quite varied. In some classrooms, teachers appeared to possess both the background knowledge needed to effectively present materials and the teaching repertoires needed to effectively engage students with the material. These classes ran smoothly and students were engaged.

In several cases, teachers were unable to present material in ways that effectively engaged learners. Observers noted instances where the presentation of concepts lacked purpose and clarity. In other cases, individual students were observed to be off task for substantial amounts of time. In many classes, classroom management issues arose as the result of teachers’ inability to effectively engage students with the curriculum materials and lesson.
-snip

Lowell needs to take a good look under the hood of SABIS®.

31 Responses to “Public School®”

  1. C R Krieger Says:

    Jack

    I have heard the “drain the talent” argument before, but I am not sure what it means.  If it means taking away some of the smart kids, it might actually be helping the public school, in that they teacher now has time and resources to devote to those who are not as “talented”.  Or, is the argument that the “talented” are a resource the teacher uses to help teach the other children, a sort of unpaid assistant teacher?  Or is the argument that the smart kids just create a richer milieu (I had to look it up to check that I spelled it correctly) for the less “talented”, thus improve the educational experience of those “other” children?

    I think I don’t fully understand this argument and would like to hear it articulated in full.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. Jack Says:

    One part of the talent is summed up by Mr. Nembirkow:
    He said he fears the charter school will entice away the most active parents when the city’s schools are struggling to get parents involved. That, he said, will hurt families who don’t have the resources to advocate for education.

    I’d also side with the milieu point of view. We need kids to be team players. Let’s foster a condition where developing interpersonal skills is paramount. Not every parent wants their kid(s)to grow up to be Donald Trump.

    If I get what Paul Georges is saying, it would be preferred, if the charter school was required to use a lottery system for intake.

  3. Renee Says:

    I could not be present, but I sent an email. A former neighbor, a family from Haiti, had both daughters graduate from Lowell High. Both in college, one as a nursing major at BC. I have a second cousin in the honors program at Lowell High. Also making point the children who have a stable home life are doing well in school as is, we don’t need SABIS point by point by point system for them. SABIS has no interest in the potential drop out or run away teen, who could not conform to their mechanisms.

  4. Joe S Says:

    Segregation by talent isn’t new, as most large schools separate the classes in each grade level by some measure of talent. But that still leaves every student in the school, to share the other aspects of school life if not the exact same curriculum.

    I expect that the charter school does not directly segregate by talent, but in an indirect way since it is the choice of involved parents to select that school in the first place.

    Maybe the public schools should emulate the best aspects of charter schools, and then there would be no need to add in for-profit schools.

  5. joe from Lowell Says:

    Cliff,

    Contemporary educational practice put less emphasis on students sitting individually at their desks and working solo, and more on cooperative group learning. (Obviously, they take tests individually). Where kids might have been assigned to read a passage and answer the questions at the end, and then hand in their papers 20 years ago, they’re now being assigned to sit in groups of five, take turns reading paragraphs (and thereby help each other when someone struggles with a word), and answer the questions as a group. Then the whole class comes together and talks about the answers.

    Obviously, you can see the advantage to having talented kids.

  6. C R Krieger Says:

    I grant Mr. Nembirkow’s point about parents.  Parents ARE the new frontier in public education.  However, active parents should not be chained in a galley with those who will not row.

    What is the plan from Mr. Nembirkow, Mr Georges and Ms Franco to get more parents involved in the education of their children without oppressive cohesion?  Even better, what plan do we have from the School Committee?  Is Franky Descoteaux’s Promise Neighbrhoods the only plan out there?

    Humbly  —  Cliff

  7. C R Krieger Says:

    I think that should be “excessive coercion”.

    I had a very bad public school elementary education, and never learned to spell.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  8. Lowell Resident Says:

    To Cliff’s last post, if all the active parents send their kids to publicly funded private schools (what charters basically are), then who is left to advocate for the public schools? Eventually the public schools become the place for the left-over students. Perhaps students in the Latin Lyceum are somewhat segregated from some of the mainstream students but their parents still are vested in the overall well-being of Lowell High School.

    There are so many things wrong with the charter school movement. I love how originally they were pitched as a sort of learning laboratories to reach students who weren’t being properly reached by the public schools, but now private companies can have “proprietary educational techniques” and aim to recruit the students who are already most likely to succeed.

    Here’s a question for people who think charter schools are a good idea. If part of the allure of charter schools is the freedom and flexibility educators have in those schools, why is the continual push in public schools towards standardization at every single turn! Between MCAS, state and federal standards, public school teachers are being micromanaged by bureaucrats while often lower paid and less qualified charter school teachers are given additional tools (including more control over the student population) and flexibility? I can never get past these dueling directions.

    While charter schools may have originally been a decent idea, the reality of the charter schools movement today is its just a front for union-busting and the privatization of public education.

  9. Renee Says:

    The city residents who do not have school age children have something equally at stake when it comes to public schools. It isn’t just their tax payer money, these students are also their neighbors. While parents ultimately have a final say, public schools are apart of the community that shouldn’t be outsourced at a parent’s discretion. As a community we have an obligation to all students, that’s the reason why schools are publicly funded.

    Yes it is easy for schools, when parents are already involved. Remember overly involved parents can be a long term detriment, when a student can not independently function in college without calling mommy or daddy. In college there is no professor who will be there going point by point by point…. until the college student masters the concept.

  10. Lowell Resident Says:

    Of course thats how its supposed to be and should be, and I definitely aknowledge the detriment of over-involved helicopter parents, but I’m just talking in practical terms of the benefits of parental advocacy in a public school setting.

    I suppose a better question is why should the kids with less active parents suffer more than they already do? If you are operating with the assumption that charter schools are “better” and the involved parents push their kids to charter schools, wouldnt that leave the students who are already disadvantaged in the parental involvement department in a “worse” school?

  11. joe from Lowell Says:

    “proprietary educational techniques”

    Let’s take this concept and apply it “merit pay.”

    IF teachers are motivated to do a better job by bonuses (an assumption of Michelle-Rhee-style education reformers), and

    IF these bonuses are given to individual teachers who outperform their peers,

    THEN teachers who discover more-effective teaching methods and tools will treat them as “proprietary” rather than share them.

  12. Christopher Says:

    If the point of charter schools is to be flexible and experiment with best practices, then instead of creating a new school why not just do what is shown to work in the existing public schools? BTW, I don’t think unions are the issue; most teachers I know would love the chance to try new things and see what works.

  13. Lowell Resident Says:

    The idea of merit pay and competition between teachers is another good point to consider when you’re talking about taking the children with more support out of the public schools, I also think its already a dangerous road to begin with since I know if my job security was on the line, I’d be less eager to work with the urban high risk students who need the best teachers and instead seek out jobs in the rich suburbs where you can more or less count on the students having more external support.

    I am not a blind believer in the status quo, but I see some of these “solutions” creating all sorts of problems and worse inequities than we already have.

    If charter schools are doing something better AND it can be adapted on a wide scale, then let the public schools do similar things. The problem is the advantages many of the better performing charter schools have specifically CAN’T be replicated on a district-wide basis, so they will inevitably lead to the furthering of the haves and the have-nots.

  14. pablo Says:

    Before we wander off on a theoretical discussion of charter schools, let’s talk about the way Massachusetts funds charter schools. The data is available on the DESE website here:
    http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/finance/tuition/

    Where does the money come from? Charter schools are funded by garnishing the local aid accounts of sending districts. There are three charter schools receiving students from Lowell. Here’s the numbers.

    Charter school rates:
    Innovation Academy Charter: 119 students, $9,842 per pupil, $1,171,198 total
    Lowell Community Charter: 614 students, $12,334 per pupil, $7,593,076 total
    Lowell Middlesex Academy: 103 students, $12,287 per pupil, $1,265,561 total

    This is a local payment of $10,009,835. The state reimburses $106,753 in operating expenses and $746,548 in facilities aid, for a net cost to the district of $9,156,534 to educate 836 students.

    I will leave it to the individual reader to consider if this expenditure of city funds is in the best interests of the children and taxpayers of Lowell.

    If you think this is good public policy, then you need to consider if this is the group you want to have running your charter school. It is instructive that the Lowell Community Charter School wasn’t shut down because it was too big to fail, even though the theory of charter schools is that poor performance should result in the charter going out of business. This school has traditionally performed worse than the Lowell Public Schools on academic measures, and has had a troubled history of poor governance.

    The state insisted that, if the Lowell Community Charter was to be allowed to survive, the board of trustees needed to be reconstituted and an outside agency needed to come in to run the school. Now the folks who were tossed out of the poorly performing charter, the folks who were banished from the board by the commissioner, want another bite at the apple with this proposal.

    If it is good public policy to add a charter school in Lowell, we need to ask if this is the group you want to operate it. I would think that charter school advocates would be better served by having the state reject this application, and to find another group who have the ability to create a school that would be an asset to the community.

  15. Jack Says:

    Would it be approporiate to call this a type of ‘paperless vouchers?’

    The way I unsterstanding a vouchers system, is that a parent could shop around, aka ‘choice’, for a school. They would have a ‘voucher,’ from the district. Let’s set the value at $10,000.

    Choice A cost $12,000/year in tuition, ect. Minus the voucher, the cost to the family is $2,000.

    Choice B cost $9,000/year in tuition, ect. Minus the voucher, the cost to the family is $0. The district retains the surplus $1,000?

    Now comes the Charter School. They negiotiate, based on some matrix, a rate. Let’s say, $12,500. They are contracted to take in 500 kids. The Charter can count on 500 x $12,500 in revenue, more of less. Of course, there will be attrition/swapping like there is with current Charters and GLTHS.

    But, now the ‘choice’ of the parents is limited to the Charter. A voucher can be used to shop around. A Charter either let’s you in or doesn’t. They have an assured population of students and assured revenue from the district.

    With SABIS, is the local board paid?

  16. C R Krieger Says:

    Regarding the comment about merit pay, should that not be coupled with a pay differential based on expected job difficulty.  Yes, we could run the schools like an airline, where seniority allows crew members to bid for the better routes and the bigger aircraft (more pay).  Reverse that and give more pay to the teachers with the more challenging jobs, and reshuffle the deck every five years.

    But, back to a previous issue, I am struck by the willingness of folks to chain parents, and their children to sub-standard or failing schools.  Not that any schools in Lowell are failing, but that is what the practical impact is of not letting parents have broad options.  Does anyone remember when SCOTUS gave us busing?  It was because some children were trapped in substandard schools and the parents had no options.  Along came busing and in some areas of this Great Nation other parents, fearful that the education would be harmed, created charter like schools.  In those cases the parents, as voters could have avoided the problem by throwing money at all their district’s schools, but they did not.  That was back when we (the Government) thought that improving school facilities and buying new books and upgrading teacher education and salaries would fix the problem.  That solution has exhausted itself and there are still problems.

    What is being advocated here is holding back some students for the hope of very marginal improvements for other students.  It is a bad recipe.

    So, since identification of a problem without providing a solution is bad staff work, I suggest we invest in a three pronged program.  First is a mandatory education program for parents (/care givers).  Three hours a week, with many options for attending, including weekends, in which parents are taught how to help their children.  Running the full school year.  A program with cultural sensitivity, but with a core that is based on Middle Class American Values.  The reason is, they work.  If you are concerned about Caucasian cultural imperialism make it solid Black American Middle Class Values.  I have trust in that.  My loyalty is to the Middle Class here.  Make it Asian Middle Class, although we should avoid the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother approach as a bit over the top.

    Prong two would be a mandatory program of ten weeks of classes for those students dropping out of high school, teaching the basic life lessons about creating, carrying and caring for babies, about money and bills and taxes and about duties to and benefits from government and PVOs.

    The third prong would be the current school system.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  17. C R Krieger Says:

    PS:  I think Jack is right about Charter Schools being, in essence, vouchers.  Let’s drop if from the Constitution, like we repealed that anti-miscegenation law that was being used to deny homosexual couples the legal right to marry.

  18. Lowell Resident Says:

    What does mandatory parental involvement mean? What if the parents don’t comply? Do they get arrested? Do the kids get kicked out of school? How is this remotely enforceable?

    Charter schools can get away with requiring things like that because the public schools provide the safety net.

    The answer to “chaining parents to failing schools” is to prevent the schools from failing. Why should one set of parents leave another set of kids in a failing school? How is that better than the goal of improving all the schools at the same time. And as Jack said right up front, there is school choice in Lowell and plenty of private options also.

    I don’t accept any schools being failing in my community. I don’t see why it would be ok for others to have their kids in a good school while other kids are in a bad one.

  19. C R Krieger Says:

    LR

    Do you clean snow and ice off the sidewalk in front of your house?  Do you more or less follow Gunter’s Rules for Trash?  Same sort of thing.&nbsp One time, for three and a half years, I lived in a place where one or the other parent had to ride the school bus to and from school, in a rotation with other parents.

    On the other hand, I am open to other solutions.

    In the end, however, dragging down some kids for a dubious return for others is not smart government.  In the end it hurts us all.

    Let’s think this thing through.  We should be brainstorming and coming up with lots of probably wacky ideas, in the hope that something useful will serve us well.  We do need to do something, and not just Lowell.  I think about Boston, which got forced busing about four decades ago and now the grandchildren of those initial students are still having problems with substandard schools.  How long should that continue?

    It is like the lack of “print preview” for comments on this blog.  For how long should that continue? :-)

    Regards  —  Cliff

  20. Joe S Says:

    It seems like in the discussion, the Charter schools themselves are but a by-product of a much larger education issue.

    There is a program in the planning stages in MA to overtly target pre-school children in the Gateway Cities to ready them for a more successful educational life. We should support that, and make sure that it becomes an important part of public education in Lowell.

    But that won’t be enough - there are societal issues, as others have pointed out, that not only limit some children, but may also hamper the education of many additional children. A very high correlation of intergenerational welfare and other public aid is another symptom of the problem.

    It is the funds expended in that issue that could be more effectively used to improve education. To LR’s questions on how to enforce education on those that do not welcome it, I would suggest that public aid be turned into both a carrot and a hammer to encourage recipients to lift themselves and their families out of the economic morasse through education and work.

  21. joe from Lowell Says:

    Does anyone remember when SCOTUS gave us busing? It was because some children were trapped in substandard schools and the parents had no options.

    No, it wasn’t. Busing was created as a desegregation program, using the formulation in the Brown vs. Board of Education decision: “Separate is never equal.” It was not done to address substandard schools - which is why it included busing students INTO poor, black neighborhoods. It was done because having different races of students grouped into different schools - even if it was not deliberate on the part of the government, even if there were equal facilities and resources in the minority schools - produces segregated professional and social networks, and thus a segregated society and economy. People forget that about school desegregation: it wasn’t about the quality of the educational experience in segregated schools, but about tearing down policies and practices that had the effect of producing an unequal society after the kids left school.

    Along came busing and in some areas of this Great Nation other parents, fearful that the education would be harmed, created charter like schools.

    This part is correct, but looked at in light of the actual justification for school desegregation plans, isn’t much of an argument for the charter schools movement.

  22. C R Krieger Says:

    With Brown v Board of Education the issue was that separate but equal wasn’t equal.  If separate schools, one for Blacks and one for all the rest, had been equal, Board of Education probably would have prevailed, but they weren’t and Brown prevailed.

    And, I am still looking for alternative plans to go forward.

    And, I agree with Joe S that preschool programs tend to trail off in effectiveness after some time in elementary school.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  23. C R Krieger Says:

    Jack

    Why the (R) after Public Schools?

    Thanks

    Regards  —  Cliff

  24. Jack Says:

    Cliff,
    It is a ®, not a (R).

    You don’t recognized the symbol for a registered trademark? I was being punny about the propietary nature of public education, as plied by SABIS®.

  25. Renee Says:

    Something to consider between the haves and haves not, in terms of parental involvement.

    How Chronic Stress Short-Circuits Parenting“By contrast, study participants who struggled with poverty and lived in high-crime neighborhoods exhibited underactive, or “hypoactive,” stress response systems. Their heart rates patterns began lower and rose little during their child’s distress. During free play, these parents showed the highest levels of disengagement along with intrusive parenting. Although instructed to play with their children, these mothers were more likely to ignore their little ones and not respond to children’s bids for attention or play. When they were engaged, mothers with hyporesponsive stress activity were overbearing.
    The researchers argue that the dampened physiological response to a child’s anguish results from the “cumulative wear and tear … of living in poverty and dangerous neighborhoods.” Faced with threats and concerns on a daily basis, these moms’ stress systems simply become overwhelmed, concludes Sturge-Apple.”

    Bad moms are really just stressed moms, so depending how the parenting classes are focused and it’s goal might be one suggestion. Without a support system, and a constant barrage of judgment, those little cherubs we call our children can grate our nerves until one has a nervous breakdown. Maybe a little but more empathy/pity and a helping hand would be OK.

    Here is a good example A Toddler Meltdown on the Plane — And Free-Range Help
    “She threw herself on the floor. She screamed. She exhibited every single behavior that a parent of a toddler dreads. I could feel people glaring at me. I was convinced that I would be thrown off the plane, because I could not get her to sit in the seat on her own.
    I was on the verge of tears when I heard a voice behind me asking if I needed help. The woman who asked was a complete stranger, but offered to sit with my daughter at least until she calmed down. Then she reached her arms out to my daughter, who leaped at the chance to tell this woman about her family, read some books, and share a couple of snacks. The flight was a about two hours long, and my daughter sat on the lap of this total stranger for the entirety. She was safe, content and quiet.”

  26. joe from Lowell Says:

    With Brown v Board of Education the issue was that separate but equal wasn’t equal. If separate schools, one for Blacks and one for all the rest, had been equal, Board of Education probably would have prevailed

    The decision handed down the Supreme Court explicitly states the opposite.

    Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does… Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system… We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.

  27. C R Krieger Says:

    I think the fact is that SCOTUS might have ducked if there had been evidence of equality, but there was little.  We got a good outcome.

    One of today’s questions is, how much benefit to the less fortunate would justify holding back the more fortunate?  I wish to help the less fortunate all I can, but from a long term view it might best be done by making sure the more fortunate move ahead smartly.

    The other question is, how much can we demand in terms of actions by parents without turning into a fascist/communist nation in this regard?  If we accept that parental involvement is a critical part a child’s success in school, we need to factor that in.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  28. Jack Says:

    Blech.

    Oh, Cliff.
    “… it might best be done by making sure the more fortunate move ahead smartly.”

    Did you pick up this ‘Hooray for the 1%’ logic watching the debate lat night? Blessed be the ‘job creators?’

  29. Renee Says:

    I have to double check this, but my understanding with many of these segregation cases was that the closest school for a black child was designated as a white only school. It wasn’t just about busing in minority students in the name of equality, rather the opposite.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_v._Board_of_Education

    “The named plaintiff, Oliver L. Brown, was a parent, a welder in the shops of the Santa Fe Railroad, an assistant pastor at his local church, and an African American.[7] He was convinced to join the lawsuit by Scott, a childhood friend. Brown’s daughter Linda, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school one mile (1.6 km) away, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was seven blocks from her house.[8][9]”

    I’m a big promoter in making neighborhood schools better, because a child sitting on a bus for over 30 minutes each way isn’t a productive means of learning. We already have enough school buses clogging up the intersections every morning and afternoon.

  30. Joe S Says:

    “moving ahead smartly” doesn’t necessarily mean confiscation of wealth.

    We need innovators, and education is a good foundation for that.

    What we don’t need is manipulators, those who profit on the backs of others without making any real contribution on their own.

    Unfortunately, it appears those manipulators have gained the upper hand, and Wall Street is a representation of that crowd. But so is K street. And the tax code is a major indication of their clout.

  31. Lowell Resident Says:

    I just think there’s a big difference between clearing snow and ice and educating the youth of our country. The biggest difference is of course, one neighbor who cleans snow and the other neighbor who doesn’t are both adults making independent decisions. Children have no control over their parents or what situations they are born into. More affluent children or just kids with a better support system at home already have huge advantages over the children who lack such advantages, when you advocate separating them then you’re making the problem so much larger. Public education is one of the few ways for government to truly help the less fortunate that isn’t the dreaded “redistribution of wealth,” and I dare say it is the most important tool we have. Will it ever make up for the societal advantages some children get over others? No. But its important nonetheless.

    It is interesting that we seemed to have already established that charter schools are no longer pilot programs to help students who can’t make it in mainstream schools, but instead try to recruit the best students from public schools and separate them. Thats my personal opinion, I just didn’t think people actually supported that in policy.

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